St. Pete’s Beach Florida

Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.

Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.

Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba  I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.

Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.

So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.

I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.

The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.

Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.

Cheers!

Along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Exploring the Mangrove tunnels in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
The placid waters of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve before the wind kicked up August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Julie relaxing on treasure Island Beach St. Pete’s Beach, FL. © Joe Geronimo
Lagoon jellyfish at the Tampa Aquarium, © Joe Geronimo
Getting ready to board our plane in Tampa, FL to return home, © Joe Geronimo
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Day Trip: The Finger Lakes

Our day started early with a trip to the car dealership in Horseheads. I wasn’t happy with the tires that came on our new car so I had them changed. Since we were so close to the Finger Lakes we decided to make an afternoon of it. After leaving the dealership we made our way through Watkins Glen driving route 14 along the west shore of Seneca Lake. We had our stomachs set on lunch at Fox Run Vineyards only to be disappointed when we arrived to find the cafe was closed until April 1st. Starving we decided to hit up Eddie O’Brien’s in Geneva. Once seated I ordered a pint of Climbing Bines pale ale which is located in Penn Yan. For lunch I went with my favorite the “Bacon, Egg & Cheese” burger and Julie had the french dip. The food was wonderful, the company even better and peering out the window a snow squall had enveloped the city of Geneva.

Bacon, Egg & Cheese burger at Eddie O'Brien's in Geneva, NY.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese burger at Eddie O’Brien’s in Geneva, NY.

After lunch we left Geneva and made the short trip to Vintosa Vineyards where we tasted some pretty darn good wine. Departing Vintosa with a bottle of their 2013 Riesling and now driving south on the east side of Seneca Lake we opted to head towards Ithaca. As we got closer to Ithaca a quick stop was made at Taughannock Falls for a glimpse of the 215 foot splendor. https://youtu.be/PY4BeH6b1n8

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Our Ithaca destination was the amazingly awesome Purity Ice Cream.

Brownie Sundae with chocolate peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. Yeah I know awesome!
Brownie Sundae with chocolate peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. Yeah I know awesome!

After ice cream we made our way home where our two teenage boys didn’t disappoint. The house was a mess when we returned.

Here is to our next adventure!